Kristina Santiago watched from the bench as Pepperdine guard Katie Menton got not one, but two chances at a 3-pointer to force overtime.
Santiago, who fouled out with just over four minutes to play, had already seen the wiry reserve score 20 points, including four shots from beyond the arc.
“I was pretty nervous,” Santiago said. “I was just praying that (the ball) didn’t go in. She’d been hitting them all day. So it was pretty nerve-wracking.”
After missing the initial look from the wing, an offensive rebound gave Menton a second desperation shot at the buzzer that clanked off the rim preserving a 62-59 Cal Poly win on Saturday afternoon in Mott Gym.
Santiago, who said she has been limited by back pain early this season, had 15 points and five rebounds in a physical game that saw her go to the free-throw line on four straight possessions in the first half. She finished 9 of 14 from the free-throw line.
A little more than a week after the Mustangs (2-1) gave up 18 offensive rebounds to Oregon State, head coach Faith Mimnaugh watched her team give up 18 more to Pepperdine, including the final rebound which allowed Menton’s near-buzzer beater.
“We’re very concerned about (the offensive rebounding),” Mimnaugh said. “In the first half we did a decent job of keeping them off the boards, but once they got it into their heads that they were just going to drive, I think offensive rebounding became their main impetus.”
Cal Poly kept taller Pepperdine out of the lane in the first half, forcing the Waves (2-2) into 15 first half 3-point attempts.
“We definitely wanted to keep them away from the penetration game,” Mimnaugh said. “We just talked about being in gap defense, trying to plug holes and force them to kick out to shoot the three.”
Pepperdine came into the game on the heels of a 49-point loss to No. 2 Stanford. As the game began, the Waves appeared to retain some of the memories of that loss.
The Mustangs rolled to an early 25-12 lead, largely on the hot shooting of junior guard Rachel Clancy, who hit her first three shots, all from 3-point range.“Something that I’m trying to apply more in games is that I’ve been a little bit hesitant (with my shot),” Clancy said. “I’ve been talking to the coaches about trying to be more confident about taking a shot if I only have a little bit of daylight. If the first one goes in, I build a lot of confidence and just let it fly.”Clancy missed just one shot, a blocked 3-point attempt midway through the second half, en route to 13 points. She also had four rebounds.Clancy, a 5-foot-9 guard, was Cal Poly’s leading rebounder heading into the contest, but sophomore reserve Ariel Gregersen stepped in and had career-highs in points (7) and rebounds (10).“Rebounding is just my job,” Gregersen said. “When I get out on the court that’s all I want to do, offensively and defensively. To help the team out I don’t need to be a scorer, I don’t need to be anything else. We need the boards no matter what.”The game was largely a role-reversal from last year’s season-opening 79-72 loss at Pepperdine. The Mustangs fell behind by 17 before a late game comeback fell just short.“Last year (against Pepperdine) we were still trying to figure out who we were,” Santiago said. “And I think this year’s team worked that out today.”
Cabrillo 54, Cuesta 37
The Cougars (1-4) got a team-high eight points from forward Kayla Cribbs, who was playing in her first game of the season after joining the team following the end of the volleyball campaign.
Former Morro Bay standout Erika Wilhelm added six points on 3-of-3 shooting.
Portland State 92, Cal Poly 83
The Mustangs got a season-high 20 points from senior guard Lorenzo Keeler.
Portland State (1-4) shot 67 percent from the field while holding Cal Poly (0-3) to 40 percent.
Sophomore forward Will Donahue had 14 points and eight rebounds, and teammate Charles Anderson had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.Portland State’s Dominic Waters led all scorers with 32 points.
Cuesta 70, Redwoods 67
Former Templeton High standout Seth Koenig had 20 points and 13 rebounds en route to being named tournament MVP in the championship game of the Mendocino Invitational on Saturday in Ukiah.
Koenig was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Xavier Mylleville and Roger Guardia.
Mylleville finished with 18 points and nine rebounds while Guardia added 15 points.
The Cougars (6-0) also got five points, four rebounds and six assists from Christian Koutras.
Cal Poly Invitational
The Mustangs swept nine matches in the tournament’s second day, moving their two-day record at the invitational to 17-2.
“I’m very pleased with the play of the team thus far,” Mustangs head coach Hugh Bream said. “We got great wins from players against Stanford, Cal, Georgia and Florida, four of the top-10 teams in nation. It’s big for us to be concluding the fall season on a good note.”
Brittany Blalock beat Loyola Marymount’s Eli Paronka 6-0, 6-1.
“She played a flawless match,” Bream said.
Also winning for Cal Poly were Alexa Lee, Suzie Matzenauer, Amy Markhoff, Ashley Pane and Jocelyn Davis.
The Mustangs will conclude round-robin play today.
Community College State Meet
The Cougars sent both the men’s and women’s cross country teams to the state finals in Fresno for just the third time in school history.
Kelly Barmann led the women’s team to what head coach Brian Locher said was the best finish in the last 10 to 15 years.
Barmann finished second in a time of 17 minutes, 58 seconds on the 5K course, helping Cuesta take eighth place out of 26 teams. Her time was also the best time for a Cuesta woman in the history of the state meet.
Glendale’s Nina Moore won the individual title in 17:58. Glendale also captured the team title.
The men qualified for back-to-back state meets for the first time in school history and just the second time total since 1981.
Taylor Castanon’s 44th-place finish in 21:14 over the four-mile course paced the Cougars to 20th place in the team competition.
Tribune staff contributed to this report.